Coming home to relax in front of a fireplace after a long day can put you in a better mood, instantly. No matter if the weather is hot or cold, a fireplace has the potential to knock your relaxation up a notch, and makes your home look and feel cozier. Many people think that these features are best with cold weather, but even if the weather is hot out, you can still enjoy the pop and crackle of a fireplace as you sip your favorite beverage and enjoy a good book. If you don't have a fireplace however, you may be wondering what you can do to add one.
You can create one yourself, of course.
When you take on a DIY project... painting, furniture, and even flooring seem fairly straightforward and easy to do. A fireplace, however, may be a bit of a daunting task. It doesn't have to be though, because there are many options for adding one to your home or yard. No matter if you want an outdoor fireplace or one inside, you can get the relaxing qualities of this great feature on a budget.
What Is an Outdoor Fireplace?
An outdoor fireplace is a construction that is made for building fires outside. Many are similar in construction to their indoor counterparts; are made from stone, brick, or concrete, and consist of a firebox and a chimney. However, not all of them have to be made this way.
An outdoor fireplace needs to be cleaned and maintained for it to perform optimally and for it to look its best, although, outdoor features do not need to be cleaned as often as those indoors. Outdoor fireplaces can be used for cooking, heating, and aesthetic reasons, while their indoor counterparts are not made for cooking.
Outdoor 'places are generally wood-burning, but there are also those that are gas fueled. You will not usually find an electric outdoor fireplace, but you can easily find electric indoor pieces.
Outdoor Fireplace vs. Fire Pit
A fire pit can simply be a pit dug in the ground, or it can be made of stone, brick, and/or metal, and can be fueled by electric, gas, or wood. Fire pits contain fire, and can be used for cooking, aesthetics, or heat. A fireplace is perfect for four or less people to enjoy at the same time, while a fire pit can accommodate more people at once. A 'place will create a cozy feeling, but a pit creates a social feeling. A pit is lower to the ground so that you can take advantage of your surrounding views, while a 'place is the focal point and sits higher.
Outdoor vs. Indoor
Outdoor fireplaces are generally larger than those indoors, but they are also less expensive. You get more of a design option for indoor features, because you can use different materials that may not be suited for outdoor use. As stated above, you can have log burning, gas, and electric fireplaces for indoor use, but any outdoors are mostly log burning. Outdoor 'places are mostly made for use, while indoor fireplaces are for use and design, to add to the overall feeling of the home.
If you want to build an outdoor fireplace, you have plenty of options for materials, and the materials are going to determine what supplies you will need.
First, you need to check with your city to see what codes they have in place that may impact what materials you can use for the outside of the 'place, and what fuels you can use for burning. Once you know what you are allowed to do, you can choose what materials you want to use to build you feature. You can choose brick, concrete, stone, and/or cinder blocks. Once you choose your materials, you will need to find the specific tools needed to manipulate the materials into the shape you want.
What You Need
You will need tools for the following:
The outside design of your DIY is going to depend on what type of fuel you will use for burning. For example, if you opt for wood-burning, you will want to have a spark arrestor to keep sparks inside the hearth, so as not to catch anything outside of the fireplace on fire. If you want a gas burning system, you will need to plan where the gas line runs, and how to cover it so that it is not exposed.
Since you are working with an outdoor setting, you can forego a traditional style chimney if you want, but you do need to have someplace to allow smoke to rise and exit the feature. Of course, you can choose any type of stone you want to add to the outside. Many people choose colors and materials that match their home, so that they have a seamless look that flows from yard to home.
The cheapest materials for building an exterior will probably be brick, so if cost is a factor, brick is something to consider. The most expensive will probably be stone.
As stated above, the first thing you need to do is choose where you want your feature. Then, you need to determine what codes you must follow. After you know what you can and cannot do, decide why you want a fireplace. What are your goals with creating one? After you have finished these three tasks, follow these steps to create the best outdoor fireplace for your wants and needs.
Step 1: Create a Budget
A budget will help you narrow down your design and materials, and it will keep you on task.
Step 2: Create a Design
Get the dimensions of the space and determine how large you want your feature. Then, sketch out the shape you want to build. List out what fuel you will need. Wood or gas? Choose your materials and colors, then add in any extras, like a large hearth or a colored chimney cap.
Step 3: Create a Foundation
Level the ground. Mix, then pour the concrete for the foundation.
Step 4: Build a Frame
Using your dimensions, cut your lumber to size, and assemble it with nails to create a frame. Pour concrete to the bottom portions of the frame.
Step 5: Attach Cement
Cut and attach cement to the frame using concrete screws.
Step 6: Add Mortar
Mix mortar per the instructions on the bag, then add it to the cement on the frame. Do this in 4 foot sections and move to Step 7. Then come back to this step, and repeat until done.
Step 7: Install Outer Material
Press stone, brick, or other material into the mortar, holding it in place until it sticks. Once you cover the mortar section, go back to Step 6, and repeat until the entire exterior has been done. No space should be left between brick or stones.
Step 8: Attach Chimney Cap
Attach the chimney cap, being sure to wear gloves. Anchor it with masonry nails or screws.
Constructing an outdoor fireplace may seem a little overwhelming, but if you want the cozy aesthetic of an outdoor feature without the hefty price tag of having a contractor building one for you, doing it yourself is a great way to save money and get the cozy backyard of your dreams.
The key to making this work out perfectly is to plan every detail before you begin. You need to know the building codes in your city to ensure that you can even build a fireplace in your yard, and what materials you are allowed to use. Then, you have to choose the perfect location for the feature, which can impact the size and shape.
One of the biggest factors, however, will be your budget, because that is going to determine what materials and design you will be able to have for your outdoor fireplace. Brick may not be your first choice, but it is one of the cheaper options. If you want stone, you are going to have to plan a higher budget. Once you have the basic building blocks in place, creating the actual feature is all about the labor and following the process to create the outdoor space of your dreams.
The final touches will be how you decorate it. Of course, you can leave it bare, but if you have built an outdoor fireplace for the aesthetic, adding cozy seating, some plants, and a nice storage bin for the essentials (wood, lighter, tools to clean) will round out the look.
When it comes building your own fireplace, you can do it yourself and save a lot of money. It isn't hard to create a design that fits your space and budget, meets your needs and wants, and reflects the style of your home and personality.